The Cottage Smallholder

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Planting potatoes in bags and borders


Photo: Potatoes in bags in the greenhouse

Photo: Potatoes in bags in the greenhouse

I know that I live with the Potato King who can eat a kilo of spuds at one sitting but I never thought that I would have so much to write about this particular vegetable. In fact growing decent spuds has become a bit of an obsession.

Yesterday I took all the seed potatoes out of the new potato border. They’d only been in for a week or so. I had lost confidence in my ridges and during a sleepless 3am fret had come to the conclusion that they would be too fiddly to earth up. I decided to go for the Australian farmer’s method right across the border. I didn’t tell Danny as I suspected that he might not approve of rehousing our newspaper wrapped babies.

The more I thought about the Australian method the more it made sense to me. Potatoes lying in a valley where rain and water would be directed towards the spuds. After the initial setup it would be easier to earth up the spuds as I’d actually be ‘earthing’ down from the ridges either side.

I have invested in a wonderful companion planting book (Companion Planting  by Brenda Little – review coming soon) which is so interesting that many hours have been spent lolling on the swing seat devouring the contents rather than gardening. The writer suggests planting digitalis (fox gloves) with potatoes as they help to ward off fungal diseases.  Luckily we have loads of foxgloves in the garden so I set a row at either end of the bed. I’ve also planted marigolds along the sides in an attempt to keep the eelworm at bay.

I’m late with our maincrop potatoes this year but the greenhouse spuds in bags are racing away. I planted some first earlies (Swift) in January hoping for a harvest of new potatoes in March. The only thing that we got in March were the first tentative shoots peeping through. About six weeks ago I planted some more Swift seed potatoes in another bag. They have shot up and the plants are now much bigger and stronger than the January ones. It will be interesting to see how the harvests differ when the time comes.

One lucky nameless Person in Peterborough received my Rooster potato order and three very smart pink potato growing bags. These have since been replaced – hats off to Suttons – so the seed potatoes are chitting and will be planted sometime in June.

Once the Swift potatoes are harvested I have more seed potatoes waiting in the wings to go in the bags and hopefully I’ll have enough spuds this year to keep the Potato King happy for a few more months this year.

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  1. allotment blogger

    Very interesting! We’ve had stuff-all success with container growing potatoes – which is all the more frustrating as my father appears to be able to grow ten kilos of potatoes from a scabby leftover tuber left in a bucket!

    I wonder whether the strange weather we’ve had this year is contributing to the new potato frustration many people seem to be experiencing?

  2. jackie Gibbins

    Hi Fiona,

    Interested to see you’ve just bought Companion Planting – me too! I’m only about a third of the way through but it is fascinating. I also bought a Moonplanting book, following your post recently about Biodynamics. I had been following an online calender until my book arrived and was then totally thrown when the two did not agree! There was I all ready for fruit planting day, and the new book says Leaf!

    Having now read it through it seems it follows the Sidereal calender which is slightly different. Well of course that has confused me even more as surely the Moon is the Moon?

    Anyway, I shall stick with this through the Summer and see how things go. It is quite precise and somedays you can only garden at certain times, today for example was a flower day but only up until midday.

    And is a flowering bulb a flower or a root? I can’t find bulbs mentioned anywhere, even online.

    Don’t forget to update us on your progress.

    Best wishes,


  3. Joanna

    I don’t suppose you know if growing the potatoes in the greenhouse in bags will stop the wild boar smelling them? I have wanted to get some growing in ours to speed them up for an early crop but I was a little worried that the pigs would smell them in the bags and rip their way into the greenhouse. You don’t find many forums with that kind of information on though 😀

    And don’t worry I won’t tell Danny what you’ve done 😀

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